Fidel Castro seen in rare public outing

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A picture released on July 4, 2015 by Cuban official website www.cubadebate.cu, shows former President Fidel Castro (L), during a visit to the Research Institute of Food Industry in Guatao, on July 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/)
A picture released on July 4, 2015 by Cuban official website www.cubadebate.cu, shows former President Fidel Castro (L), during a visit to the Research Institute of Food Industry in Guatao, on July 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/)

Havana (AFP) – Cuban state television on Saturday broadcast images of former president Fidel Castro meeting cheese experts during a rare trip outside his Havana home.

Seemingly alert and sharp, the 88 year old was shown seated at a panel organized by the Food Industry Ministry’s research institute on Friday, speaking at length with the “cheese masters.”

“Fidel spoke for more than four hours with 19 cheese masters participating in a training program” in Guatao, near Havana, official media said.

Wearing a light-colored tracksuit over a checkered shirt, Castro spoke of the “problems affecting the population’s nutrition, like climate change and frequent wars.”

Castro, who his biographers say has been passionate about cheese-making since the 1960s, was interested in the quality and production levels of cheese in the communist country, according to the report.

The last publicly televised images of Castro date to May 21, when he met at his home with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

Several days before, local media published images of him meeting French President Francois Hollande.

The one-time revolutionary leader turned power over to his younger brother Raul, 84, in 2008, though he effectively stopped serving in an official capacity in 2006 because of his deteriorating health.

Due to the secrecy surrounding the elder Castro’s health, his rare public appearances are carefully scrutinized by international media and the authorities release images of him receiving foreign officials and representatives of civil society.

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